Exhibitions

Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum

November 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022

Content Detail

See Trees in a Different Light

The ninth annual Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum returns as a walking experience. Explore 50 acres of the Arboretum’s majestic trees during this one-of-a-kind spectacle of color, light, and sound. You will be awed and delighted to see returning favorites and surprising new sights, including a special Human+Nature display and an experience featuring 150 colorful lanterns. Journey along a one-mile paved walking path amid festive music and lighting effects that highlight the beauty of trees in winter. Along the route, warm up by a crackling fire and roast marshmallows for s’mores, or stop in one of the concession tents for a snack and beverage. Illumination will highlight the many gifts of trees: natural beauty, increased feelings of peace and calm, homes for wildlife, and the air we breathe.

Advance purchase is recommended as many nights will sell out. Please note that any ticket purchases made on-site during Illumination and Illumibrew will be credit card only.

Please note: The Ginkgo Restaurant will be closed to the public on Tuesday, December 14. The Ginkgo Café and concessions will be available that night.

 

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Ticket Prices

Member Early-Bird Rates (Available Oct 1 - 31)

Peak: Adult – $17, Child (2-17) – $10
Standard: Adult – $12, Child (2-17) – $7

Member Tickets (Starting Nov 1)

Peak: Adult – $19, Child (2-17) – $11
Standard: Adult – $14, Child (2-17) – $8

Guest Tickets (Starting Oct 1)

Peak: Adult – $24, Child (2-17) – $16
Standard: Adult – $19, Child (2-17) – $13

 

ComEd Ticket Discount

All ComEd discount tickets have been reserved. No additional discount tickets will be available through this program.

AnyDay Tickets For Members – SOLD OUT

AnyDay tickets are now sold out; no additional AnyDay tickets will be added. Members can still purchase Illumination tickets for a specific date and time by following the ‘Member Tickets’ link on this page.

PLEASE NOTE: If you purchased AnyDay tickets, one date will be indicated on the ticket but they are valid for any Illumination date.

Museums for All

There will be a limited number of weeknights (Monday through Thursday) available at a reduced rate to guests with a state-issued EBT card (also known as a LINK card) or a valid WIC card, through the Museums for All program. Tickets can be purchased online using the link below or in person at the Arboretum, as long as the date is not sold out. When purchasing on-site, purchasers are required to show a valid LINK or WIC card to receive the discounted rate. When purchasing online, purchasers will receive an email confirmation and will be required to show a valid LINK or WIC card to pick up their tickets the night of the event.

This Illumination-specific discount is an extension of the popular Museums for All program, a partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), which has allowed more than 3,600 under-served individuals to visit the Arboretum since 2016.

Purchase Museum for All tickets >

Illumination Accessibility

The Illumination trail is a one-mile paved walking path that includes one large incline (Frost Hill) approximately halfway through the exhibition, and several smaller inclines and declines. We advise guests to keep the length and hilly nature of the trail in mind. The exhibition is not fully accessible to visitors with limited mobility.

Guests have the option to skip the second half of the exhibition, bypassing the large incline at Ornament Hill, by heading back toward the Visitor Center on the tram road.

The Arboretum has a small number of non-motorized wheelchairs available free of charge in the Visitor Center on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests must leave a driver’s license or other photo ID to check out a wheelchair. Because our supply is limited, we recommend bringing a wheelchair to the Arboretum, if needed. Personal mobility scooters may also be used on the trail.

Arboretum staff make best efforts to clear the path of ice and snow. Crowds are generally lighter on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday making it easier to navigate the trail.

Please be aware that Illumination features moving and flashing lights along the trail, in case a member of your party is sensitive to these effects.

The Morton Arboretum welcomes visitors with service animals to Illumination. (However, please note, pets are not permitted at the Arboretum except on special dog admission days.)

The exhibition is not visible by car. Parking is available near the entrance for those with a disability placard on their vehicle—as it will be dark outside, please notify the parking attendant as you drive in. Otherwise, parking is first come, first served, and is directed by parking attendants.

Guests directed to secondary lots can take advantage of shuttle buses which will transport them to the main event area. If you do not have a disability placard and someone in your party has mobility concerns, you are welcome to drop off passengers in our circle drive adjacent to the Visitor Center before you park. Again, please notify our parking attendants and they will direct you accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my AnyDay ticket include a date?

AnyDay tickets will have one date indicated, but they are valid for any Illumination date.

Are there any Illumination ticket discounts available?

Morton Arboretum members always receive a discount.

A limited number of weeknight tickets (Monday through Thursday) are available at a reduced rate to guests with a state-issued EBT card (also known as a LINK card) or a valid WIC card, through the Museums for All program. Tickets can be purchased online using the link below or in person at the Arboretum, as long as the date is not sold out. When purchasing on-site, purchasers are required to show a valid LINK or WIC card to receive the discounted rate. When purchasing online, purchasers will receive an email confirmation and will be required to show a valid LINK or WIC card to pick up their tickets the night of the event.

This Illumination-specific discount is an extension of the popular Museums for All program, a partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM), which has allowed more than 3,600 under-served individuals to visit the Arboretum since 2016.

All ComEd discount tickets have been reserved.

I want to change my tickets. What is the refund and exchange policy?

Illumination ticket purchases are non-refundable. However, guests may be able to exchange tickets in advance for a fee of $5 per transaction, depending upon event capacity and at the discretion of the Arboretum. Same-day exchanges cannot be accommodated. If the Arboretum cancels a night of Illumination (in whole or part), we will accommodate ticket holders according to the cancellation policy.

Can I get passes or tickets for an Arboretum day visit and Illumination tickets in the same transaction?

Event tickets may always be added to general admission reservations, however, we encourage you to purchase Illumination tickets in a separate transaction, if possible, to ensure that the scan codes are kept separate.

Can I walk/snowshoe at the Arboretum during the day on Illumination dates?

On days with four or more inches of snow, we invite you to snowshoe or cross-country ski at the Arboretum during our usual daylight hours. During Illumination, the East side of the Arboretum will close at 3:00 p.m. to prepare for Illumination opening each evening at 4:30 p.m. Rentals must be returned by 3:00 p.m. However, those with their own snowshoes or skis may enjoy the many trails on the West side of the Arboretum until sunset.

If Illumination is canceled due to weather, can I get a refund?

Because Illumination is an outdoor event in winter, on very rare occasions the Arboretum may cancel an evening or temporarily close the event until weather passes. Many factors are considered, including predictions from the National Weather Service and other weather services, before making a decision that has an impact on guests. If Illumination is canceled or temporarily closed for part of an evening, ticket holders will be notified via email, and notice will be posted to the Arboretum’s website homepage. We will honor tickets on alternate nights, schedule permitting. For more information, email or call our ticket line at tickets@mortonarb.org or 630-725-2066 between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily (except holidays).

If I have tickets and decide not to go to Illumination due to weather conditions, can I get a refund or exchange my tickets for another date?

Ticket holders who make the choice not to attend Illumination based on their personal circumstances may request a ticket exchange, depending on schedule and ticket availability, for a $5 fee. Refunds are not available. For more information, email or call the ticket line tickets@mortonarb.org or 630-725-2066 between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily (except holidays).

Can I enter/use the Arboretum before the time on my Illumination ticket?

Illumination ticket holders may enter the Arboretum after 4:30 p.m., but will not be able to access the Illumination trail or Visitor Center until the time listed on their tickets. Due to often cold weather conditions, we encourage ticket holders to arrive as close as possible to the time on their tickets for the best experience.

Is the Illumination trail accessible for those with physical disabilities?

The Illumination trail is a one-mile paved walking path that includes one large incline (Frost Hill) and several smaller inclines and declines. Wheelchairs are available free-of-charge at the Visitor Center on a first-come, first-served basis, or guests may bring their own. Personal mobility scooters may be used on the trail. Guests have the option to bypass Frost Hill and skip the large incline during the second half of Illumination by heading back towards the Visitor Center on the tram road.

Tickets: Print your ticket email or retrieve it on a mobile device before arriving at the Arboretum to ensure a smooth check-in process.

Timing: The time on your ticket is the start of your half-hour entry window. Last entry is at 8:30 p.m. Once admitted, you may stay until the exhibition closes at 9:30 p.m. Please note you will not be admitted to Illumination or any buildings before the time on your ticket.

DirectionsFind directions and the best way to get to the Arboretum.

Parking: Allow plenty of time. You may have to walk a distance from the parking lot. Based on your parking location, you may be transported by bus to the Illumination entrance. Masks are required for everyone over the age of 2 inside the buses.

MapPreview the map; remember you must stay on the paved path for your safety.

Prepare for the Outdoors: Wear winter gear including hats, gloves, scarves, and practical shoes or boots.

Refreshments: Snacks and hot beverages (with optional cordials) will be served in two concession tents along the route. S’mores are available for roasting on the fire pits. Inside the Visitor Center, a full dinner menu will be available from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., including sandwiches, salads, and soups, along with assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Face Masks: Masks are required to have your ticket scanned for entry, inside the concession tents, and inside Arboretum buildings regardless of vaccination status. Masks are not required outdoors along the Illumination experience.

Accessibility: The trail is a one-mile paved walking path that is not fully accessible to guests with limited mobility. More accessibility details.

Photos: There are many opportunities for photos along the Illumination experience and in Arbor Court. Due to health and safety considerations, Arboretum staff and volunteers are not available to assist with photos.

Pets: All pets must be left at home. Service animals are always welcome.

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